Kombucha. What is it? Can you grow it at home? Let’s find out!
First off, let’s talk about kombucha. You have probably have seen it in a grocery or heath food store. Kombucha is a probiotic that you can drink. Probiotics help replace the healthy bacteria in your intestines. Scoby gives kombucha the healthy probiotic power. For anyone who doesn’t know: scoby is the big snot looking thing that hangs out in the kombucha. Scoby is an acronym that stands for: Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast. Basically, scoby feeds on sugar to turn tea into kombucha. (Because Kombucha is fermented, which means there is trace amounts of alcohol in the drink).
Yes. You can make it at home. It is under $4.00 for your starter batch, and under $1.00 for any following batches.You will need a few things before you begin:
I use a 1 gallon glass jar to start my kombucha. You can find one here. Because your scoby is developing in this batch, it will not produce a large batch for a few months. You will eventually need a 2 gallon glass jar. You always need to keep kombucha in a glass jar. Once you have processed your first batch, you will need glass containers to hold the freshly processed kombucha. (Old wine bottles or coffee syrup containers work really well for this). Or you can get these nifty storage jars here.
Few disclaimers here: I use regular, organic black tea, which has caffeine. Thus, there will be trace amounts of caffeine in the processed kombucha. If you need a caffeine free option, purchase a caffeine free tea. Also, as we discussed, kombucha is fermented. So, where will trace amounts of alcohol in the processed komucha. And by trace, I mean .05% on average.
You can either purchase a scoby online, or you can grow your own from a store bought kombucha. You can purchase any brand of kombucha, you will want original flavor. Look and find the bottle with the most amount of scoby you can find. But make sure it is ORIGINAL flavor.
You will want the original flavor because flavoring changes the scoby. If you want to add a flavor to your kombucha-NEVER ADD IT TO THE BATCH. You always add it after processing. Process your scoby, and add organic juice to your storage container. Let the kombucha process on your counter for 2-3 more days, then move it to the fridge.
- 1 cup Original flavor kombucha
- All the chunks out of the kombucha-if the store bought kombucha doesn’t have a lot of chunks do not panic, it will grow just fine.
- 6 bags black tea
- 1 cup organic sugar
- 8 cups of water
First, you are working with a living organism here. Even if you think everything you are working with is clean- clean it again. Trust me. I normally clean all my pots, measuring cups, and utensils; then give everything a rinse with vinegar. This just helps make sure there is no soap scum or other residue left on the utensil. For maximum sanitation, leave everything air dry. If your scoby grows mold, you will be able to wipe it off. Your scoby will naturally have white spots come and go on the surface. If there is mold, you can wipe it off the surface.
If you ever question if your scoby has died or grown something funky, just throw it out and start over. A healthy scoby really does what ever it wants. Sometimes it hangs out on top, sometimes it hangs out at the bottom, sometimes it hangs out in the middle. There will be chunks on the bottom. Just let your kombucha do its own thing.
It is really simple to make your own:
- Clean Everything and rinse with vinegar
- Reserve 1 cup of your original flavor kombucha. Try to get as many chunks as you can. I strained my kombucha over a bowl. Reserved the chunks, and then reserved the cup. If you don’t have a ton of scoby bits-don’t worry, it will grow just fine.
- Boil water
- Add sugar
- Add tea bags
- Stir to combine
- Let water cool to room temperature. Make sure it is room temperature. If your tea is too hot, it will kill the scoby.
- Add your sugar/tea mixture to your glass jar.
- Add the cup of kombucha and chunks
- Let sit 4-6 weeks until your scoby grows
Store out of direct sunlight. Cover with a coffee filter. The kombucha needs to breathe, but keep the bugs out. A cheese cloth is not tight enough to keeps bugs out, and certain cloths are too tight that don’t allow the kombucha to breathe. Secure the coffee filter to the jar. Jar rings, hair ties, rubber bands, all work great. The room temperature should stay between 62-75 degrees (Fahrenheit).
Normally, kombucha only takes 2-3 weeks to fully develop; so, this will be a really strong batch. If it is too strong, you can add some essential oils, and make a cleaner. You can find my favorite recipe here. It works as a vinegar substitute.
Move your processed kombucha to the fridge. This stops the fermentation process, and keeps the bacteria cultures alive and healthy. To make another batch, remove scoby and reserve 2 cups of fermented kombucha. Repeat steps 1-7. Let it ferment for 2-3 weeks.
Best of Luck, and let me know how yours turns out!